Lathan’s misfortune a motivating factor for Town
Robin Hood and Dandy Town will go into the Dudley Eve semi-finals tonight as favourites over PHC Zebras and Devonshire Cougars at Goose Gosling Field.
Both teams were in blistering form in the group phase, scoring 25 goals between them in four matches, 7-0 and 5-0 wins for Hood, the defending champions, and 7-0 and 6-0 victories for Town.
They will be hoping to carry on where they left off against the Zebras and Cougars, with places in the November 10 final at stake.
Town were fast out of the blocks, beating X-Roads 6-0 before stunning PHC 7-0 to win group A.
They had a setback when defender K’Wonde Lathan suffered a serious bike accident when he broke both legs in September. Lathan is making a good recovery, and has been at Town’s games to support the team this season.
“What we really want to do for K’Wonde is reach the final for him and dedicate this season to him,” Angelo Simmons, the Town captain, said before their clash against Cougars which follows the 7pm opener between Hood and PHC.
“We want to get back to winning trophies, which I think we can do with the squad that we have.
“My coach [Devarr Boyles] picks him up before every game and gets him there; he was there on Sunday when we played Somerset.”
Town have not been able to carry their cup form into the league where they have just two wins from five matches.
“We’re looking to build on those two games and go all the way to the final,” Simmons said.
“It’s a semi-final and can go either way. We definitely can’t take a team like Cougars lightly, they are a very experienced team with good players. We just have to go into the game remembering our philosophy and, hopefully, things will go our way.”
Town added to their squad in the summer, bringing in Jomei Bean-Lindo from Devonshire Colts while Rieko Trott and Clay Darrell returned from Boulevard. Defenders Bean-Lindo and Darrell both scored in Town’s thrilling 4-3 win over Somerset last weekend.
Simmons, last season’s top scorer with 23 goals in the Premier Division, has managed just two so far in league, although he is happy others have stepped up in that department.
“It’s always nice to see others get goals, when it’s my time to get goals it will happen,” he said.
“I just want to lead the team in the right way and if it means me providing the goals to get to the final that’s what I’m willing to do.
“I’m happy there are other people scoring and it gives us a boost knowing my goals are going to come too.
“I always start off slow but end up finishing strong, which is the main thing. I’m in a rough patch right now, but the goals will come.”
Town have won the Dudley Eve Trophy three times (2011-12, 2013-14 and 20-14-15) since the competition replaced the Martonmere Cup in name and format back in 2009-2010.
Hood’s win last season was their first but they have won other titles including the league and the FA Cups three times in the past four seasons.
“The last three years it’s been us and PHC battling for positions [in the league],” John Barry Nusum, the Hood coach, said. “It’s going to be a battle of two good teams.”
Hood went top in the Premier Division last weekend after the top two sides, X-Roads and Somerset Eagles, both lost. Hood, with new signings such as Chae Brangman, London Roberts-Steede and Justin Corday, have strengthened an already formidable squad.
“The new guys have gelled well, it makes it very competitive and keeps everybody on their toes to work that little bit harder,” Nusum added. “There are going to be tough times in the season for individuals and tough times for the team. But everybody who is on board wants to win, that’s the overriding factor.
“We won the FA Cup and Dudley Eve last year and we want to make sure we defend what we have.
“Chae has been a blessing for us, we can talk about on the field with his goals, but even his attitude at training sessions and around the team, he’s been one of those players who has come and fitted in seamlessly. When you bring the quality and the personality to go with it; it makes everybody’s work a little bit easier.
“The same with Justin and London. They have come in and given us the type of lift that you hope for as a coach. Ashton Bell has come in at left back and is doing a good job also.”
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